2018 Pre Season Discussion

Essendon Football Club players in Ocean Grove training for AFLX . LACHIE YOUNG, Geelong Advertiser February 7, 2018 1:34pm

ESSENDON will back its forwards to play to their strengths in 2018 but midfielders Zach Merrett, David Zaharakis and skipper Dyson Heppell are likely to be used inside 50 to complement its array of attacking weapons.

The Bombers are spending four days on the Bellarine Peninsula finetuning aspects of their game ahead of next week’s inaugural AFLX series and JLT matches against Richmond and Geelong, with match simulation drills focusing on contested ball and offensive and defensive pressure.

It is an area that Essendon will look to improve on this year, having finished the 2017 season ranked 15th for tackles inside-50 and 14th for tackles overall.

Richmond’s drought-breaking premiership last year came on the back of its relentless pressure inside 50 and several opposition teams have already hinted they will need to alter some elements of how they play to keep pace with how the game has evolved.

But forward coach Paul Corrigan said it was important the Bombers didn’t go too far to try to mimic what had worked for other clubs.

“I think you have to look at your own list and your strengths and what works for you. It’s very easy to sit there and copy and try to emulate what teams have done before,” Corrigan said.

“You probably look at different things and take out certain aspects of what they’ve done, but I still think you have to look at your core mix and what you’re doing with them and work on those strengths and make sure that you’re evolving the guys you’ve got.

“Obviously with Joe (Daniher) and Hooksy (Cale Hooker) and (James) Stewart, and whoever the guys are that come in up forward, we’ll complement those guys with small forwards around them. But I think if we can add more flexibility with mids going forward and forwards going into the midfield, that will bring a new dimension to the group.”

The JLT series matches against the Tigers and the Cats will provide Essendon with the perfect chance to implement some of the proposed changes to its game plan ahead of Round 1.

Corrigan said despite the fact games will be played in a confined space, next week’s AFLX competition would also be an ideal opportunity for the Bombers to apply what they had been practising over summer.

“It will be a really good competition to see how it evolves and we’ve already put some training in around it to complement what we’re doing with our offensive and defensive work,” he said.

“I think with the ball movement stuff and when you’re trying to move the ball quickly, or trying to find those short hit-up targets, we’ll encourage guys to take those kicks.

“Even in defence, just practising the quick transition from defence to offence, I think if you can bring those components in on a smaller, confined area, it only helps what you’ve been training on a bigger sort of ground.”


That Inside 50 tackle stat isn’t as galling as it looks.

  • we went inside 50 less than most
  • when we did we were more efficient than everyone else
  • if JD /hooker take all the marks and tippa/Fanta/green get all the crumbs there aren’t too many tackles to be laid
  • our ratio of tackles to inside 50s wasnt too bad (20% vs 25 for tigers, 22 for gws, crows 23.5, port 23, Freo 18.5)
  • despite this we still had one of the best players in the league for inside 50 pressure
  • our pressure in the fwd line wasn’t the problem last season, our pressure in the midfield was.

That said we should be looking to improve our front half pressure obviously but imo only a modest improvement is required. Midfield pressure is where we stand to make the greatest gains in terms of results.


IDGAF if we rank 18th for tackles inside 50 this year, coz the only [email protected] taking the ball back out of our f50 is going to be the umpire😜


Yep, the inside 50’s would have been more if we weren’t as efficient which would have led to repeat entries.
However I’m strong on icing the clock by keeping the ball inside fwd 50.


I just want to win every game.


Their algorithm or calculations or chook raffle wheel consistently over-rates players who set up exclusively outside the contest (either as really dedicated wingmen or rebounding halfbacks.)
Shane Edwards, Jack Sinclair; and (past years) Houli. That’s a role, and it has value, but no coach in the history of the world would take any of them over Bontempelli.


Probably just a regurgitation of what’s been discussed in here, but my brother is Barry Young’s accountant and Baz still keeps in touch with a fair few of the current players. This is what he’s heard from a few of the boys:

  • Standout on the track - Raz
  • Biggest surprise - Saad. Reckon that his closing speed in a tackle and his strength are a lot better than expected.
  • Devon Smith - Gun (and he knows it)
  • Stringer - Working hard but still a fair way to go in terms of aerobic fitness. The club said that it will be a 2-3 year project to get him a midfielder’s tank. The club said they’d help him become the next Dustin Martin-style power midfielder.
  • 2016 suspended players are all in far better shape than this time last year. Heppell in particular has had a big pre-season.


This came from another player but it probably doesn’t help that whilst in Bali recently he was chewing down durries like they were about to be outlawed.


Every game for the rest of eternity. It’s not that much to ask.


Spot on and deserves more than a like.:+1:


*next week’s AFLX competition would also be an ideal opportunity for the Bombers to apply what they had been practising over summer".


10min quarters? And only have to chase guys for about 30m? Sounds like most of our midfield!


SAUSAAAAGE!! :muscle:


Seems to discredit the efficacy of the Buttifant/Wellman training regime of 2016, But who knows how bad they would have been if not for that training.

I question the meaning of “big pre-season” if it means the player peaks in the finals , thats an effective preseason ( assuming we are destined to play finals). If the preseason is so “big” that the player peaks during the home and away . It might be big but not effective in terms of the end game.


Exactly. Stats without context are meaningless. Anyone who actually watched us play would have seen the amount of pressure that was applied in our forward line. The only reason the pressure numbers are down is because we had the ball in our hands or heading towards the sticks more often than not.


I don’t think it does discredit them. At the end of the day it’s hard to replicate full ground and contact drills with only a handful of players and nothing replicates the physical toll of playing games week in, week out.

I would have also thought that a big pre-season is one that sets up you up to be able to run a season out. Either way it’s probably impossible to measure without hindsight and wouldn’t take into account everything that happens in season anyway.


Sure, I was not criticising the 2 names mentioned, but that experience shows its not easy to train outside the club/full group environment.

We need our midfield and defense groups to each have a “Big Preseason”. We will have a good idea of how big it was at about 10 pm on March 23


Mutch has had an arthroscope on his knee for small clean up. Out for 5wks.



Former Western Bulldogs and Essendon superstar Adam Cooney has predicted the top five AFL players in the next three years.

The 2008 Brownlow Medallist has included two key position forwards in his list, despite many believing that position will be extinct in the near future.

According to Cooney, there is only one genuine midfielder in the list, showing a balanced line-up across the park will still be vitally important to success.

Check out Cooney’s list below!

5 – Eric Hipwood (Brisbane Lions)

“I think he is a Buddy Franklin prototype in terms of his height and marking ability. He might even have better hands than Buddy at a young age. Just the way he wheels around on his left foot and bombs them from 55-60 metres, he has massive potential.”

4 – Toby Greene (GWS Giants)

“He has had a couple of hiccups but on the field, his talent is sublime. He is an x-factor, kicks goals and has footy smarts.”

3 – Josh Kelly (GWS Giants)

“The millionaire man. If he wins a flag with GWS, I think he will go then.”

2 – Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)

“Since the first day he walked into the footy club, I knew he was going to be something special. He is a big boy, but a really smooth mover and quicker than what you think. He is a future captain of the Western Bulldogs.”

1 – Joe Daniher (Essendon)

“He moves a bit like Hipwood and Franklin, and has the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and has shown that at times. He will be the number one player in the competition in three years time.”

Listen to Adam Cooney’s chat with Andy Maher on SEN Afternoons in the player below!


1 – Joe Daniher (Essendon)

“He moves a bit like Hipwood and Franklin, and has the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and has shown that at times. He will be the number one player in the competition in three years time.”

I knew Adam had something going for him.